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I Am Torn (But Another Person Did Not Jump out of Me)

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This week's American Inventor featured commercials chosen and guided by the finalists for their products for the viewing audience to make the ultimate decision of which of the four will win one miiiiiiillion dollars. The advertising agency, DDB Worldwide, was shockingly bad. Brain accessories? Each of their ideas was bizarre and inappropriate for the product's intended audience. The only moderately good concepts were the splitting body in the back alley and the new high school language. Furthermore, the production quality of the final ads made them seem more like bad PSAs or corporate training videos. This morning, Inc. intern Peter Hoy likened the Catch ad with the incompetent football player's detachable hand to one of those Saturday Night Live spoof commercials. (One of my all-time favorites is the one for Mom Jeans.) Detachable hand?

The last part of the commercial was the most compelling. We see a man wearing the Catch vest and catching each football launched at him from all different directions. He spins in place but his body doesn't bend or move. This communicates the accomplishment of the vest. Instead of watching a bunch of oiled up athletes (although I am not complaining about this element), I would be more convinced that his product worked and I needed to buy it for my son or myself (if I had a son or wanted to play football) if he showed a polished version of his field research video from the last round. In that, we saw a group of high school kids failing miserably at consistently catching until just three days after wearing the Catch vest. I think America is more likely to vote for Erik because of his personal situation than choosing his invention over his competition's. Even if he doesn't win, I'm sure he can strike a deal with some sporting goods company.

Francisco fared a little better with his concept. The commercial turned out to be similar to many that I've seen amidst Saturday morning cartoons for tame X-treme sporting goods. I again agree with ad guru Ed that it would have made more sense for the body split to happen before the extra seat morphed onto the bike, but otherwise the otherworldly tone of the set conveyed a sense of mystery and allure. Mary Lou just about lost her mind both when she told the cameras and the studio audience how she has fallen in love with Francisco "just like the rest of America" and then after the commercial when she was telling him what a great job he'd done. I agree with her that his participation in the production of the commercial was vital. Unfortunately, the image of the two teenage guys riding the bike in the final cut lacked the danger factor that drives sales in his target market.

Ed Hall's commercial for the WordAce was the best overall. There was humor, audience participation, and I can even see the generation of a new way of speaking. I want to three-letter word, starts with 'b,' the WordAce even more than before, and that's when you know you have a good commercial. I could see other versions of the game being developed for different groups. It combines the intellectual challenge and satisfaction of Scrabble and Boggle with the quick reflexes necessary for Hungry Hippos. I was really torn at ten o'clock last night when I had to decide whether I was going to vote for Ed so that he could buy his mom a house and get his totally fun and educational toy out into the market, or if I would give my support to Janusz for a product that will in theory save thousands of babies' precious little lives.

Did you vote? Did you feel as torn as me? Janusz took a big risk by developing his own concept instead of taking one of the poorly developed ones from the big expensive ad agency, and I agree with dashing Peter that the final ad should have shown more of the Anecia's special properties. Ultimately, I'll be happy if any of the four win since I've gotten to know and care about them each over this season, but I've got my money on Ed. Who do you think will win?

Last updated: May 12, 2006




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